I met Peter Hart for the first time on his Wave-sailing Masterclass in Kerry. “I am off to do battle with the North Atlantic!” I announced. It was not an equal match; as my friend Malk very kindly pointed out; “The North Atlantic does have a weight advantage…” he said “Albeit slight…”
I could do the introductions, but c’mon. EVERYBODY knows Peter Hart! Voted “The 3rd most influential and inspirational windsurfer of all time” in a worldwide poll, I think we have all been entertained by a Peter Hart training DVD or read one of Harty’s books or columns at some time in our windsurfing career.
Peter is not a windsurfing instructor, he is your mate. You can have a laugh and a beer with him and, like any good mate (I do include Malk in this!) it sometimes falls to Peter to point out uncomfortable truths – like “Put that boom down about a YARD!” Pete has a great way of summing up the essentials. On speed sailing; “The first thing you need to know is – it hurts!” On wave-sailing; “Success early on can be as simple as being able to get off the beach…” Yep – happy with that “…then make it back to land…” OK so far… “…still holding on to unbroken equipment.” Oooh – the devil is always in the detail!
On my first day, I did get off the beach, but my return was not that simple. It involved 45 minutes in The Impact Zone, hanging on to my kit with waves pounding over my head. I surfaced looking for tea and sympathy, since it has always been my belief that the Hippocratic Oath of Windsurf Instructors is “You can lead a course to water, but you can’t make them sink…” I did not expect Peter then to say “I’m really GLAD that happened to you!”
He must have noticed the murderous look in my eye as I spluttered indignation and sea water, because he quickly added “That was the worst case scenario and it wasn’t that bad, was it?” “I nearly DROWNED!” I entreated. “What really happened?” he asked. I had to admit that “I, er, floated around a bit and drifted back to shore…!”
It sometimes falls to your mate to kindly hold up a mirror to you. Once I looked at my experience without the indignation and melodrama, I had to admit that not being able to get back to shore immediately (while under the close surveillance of one of the top windsurf coaches in the UK) was more ‘a mild inconvenience’ than ‘a near drowning.’ And I was still holding on to unbroken equipment, so my first battle with the North Atlantic was a complete success!
Kerry was one of my best holidays ever (and believe me, it has some competition!) We all learnt TONS from Peter – and this important lesson wasn’t about technique. It was all about patience, understanding the elements and facing up to fear and the reality of the situation. You need patience in spades to catch that perfect wave – but you do need to be equally patient when waiting for that wave to let go, if IT has caught YOU…!
The truth is that, if you want to sail in waves, you are going to wipe out in waves, so you better get used to it. To be quite honest, if I had been a bit more Zen and embraced the Irish sunshine (yes really!), the sea and the view of Brandon Mountain, while awaiting the inevitable (by which, I mean drifting back to shore!) – it would actually have been quite an enjoyable and relaxing 45 minutes!
Peter will be running FREE clinics throughout the weekend at N.W.F on all aspects of windsurfing, so if you want to come along, have a laugh and be coached by a mate (who also happens to be a multiple-champion windsurfer, journalist, coach, author, presenter and the face of ‘Wally’ on those familiar old friends, the RYA videos…!) then this is your chance.
As Martijn de Ruijter, one of our chums from the Netherlands who attended Peter’s N.W.F clinic last year said “It was nice to hear him speak with such enthusiasm. I learnt a few tricks about getting to plane earlier and I would really recommend it to others – getting the Pros to share their secrets!”
And as fellow windsurfing guru Jim Collis said to me once, “Harty is a LEGEND!” – now you won’t get a better recommendation than that!
Come and say hi or take part in one of Peter’s clinics at N.W.F! If you would like to find out more information about Peter; links to his books, Masterclass DVDs and details of his coaching clinics around the UK and worldwide, visit www.peter-hart.com